Heart & Soul: A farewell to Fernando Forestieri & Danny Pudil

177 games. 23 goals. The sum total of Fernando Forestieri & Daniel Pudil’s Watford careers. In the Pozzo era, of course, we’re supposed to be used to players coming & going at the speed of light. With the clubs ambition being shown in the quality of players brought in to keep us up, it’s natural that two players who could hardly be described as regulars in the last couple of seasons should be allowed to go……

But that doesn’t really do justice to two players who weren’t just a key part of the team which came so close to promotion in 2012/13. They were probably the first two players to really “get” what being a Watford player is about.

Forestieri, of course, was the clown prince. Whilst his early performances were somewhat…..tainted by his propensity for going down easily, what was immediately recognisable was the absurd level of talent that he had. Of course, his finest moment was the wonderful beautiful cross which we all know what follows from….

Go on, watch it. You know you want to.

But it was also this:

The kids loved him because he wears his emotion on his sleeve. We all loved him, because he’s capable of doing this

Watching him in full flow reminds you that football’s supposed to be fun. It shouldn’t be a grind. He was all heart, and his presidency of the Junior Hornets was fitting, because frankly, he comes across as a big kid. In the very best sense of the word. A former colleague lives on the Nascot Grange, where Forestieri lives. She reported what a nice man both Fernando was – taking the time (along with Davide Faraoni) to have kick arounds with the kids & invite them to games. The best kind of community work.

Danny Pudil, as you’d kind of hope & expect from a full back wasn’t quite as exciting as Fernando. What he was, though, was an improvement on Karl Dickinson, and – arguably – the best left back of the last 20 odd years. Yes, his love of going forward meant that he got caught the wrong side regularly, and with it would follow the inevitable yellow card. First season aside, he’s never been a regular – offensively not as good as Anya, he found it hard getting game time in the last couple of years. But there wasn’t any whining, just getting his head down & training. His decision to live in the centre of Watford, taking advantage of the clubs tie up Zincos and be regularly seen with his little boy at Cassiobury Park was a key part of the supporters getting onside with the new regime.

…and now they’re both gone. Sheffield Wednesday have got themselves two quality Championship players. At least as a supporter, they’ll both be very much missed in a yellow shirt. Whilst the likes of Troy Deeney & Almen Abdi are around, of course, the heart of the club feels strong. But there’s something about two of the first players to sign up permanently in our little corner of Hertfordshire going that makes it feel as though a bit of the heart & soul of the club is gone.

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